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Within Thinkers’ Worlds: On The Anti-Soviet Promotion Of Honor And Humanity In The Works Of Soviet And Post-Soviet Historians

  • Author(s): Bortsov-Shrago, Ilia Leon
  • Advisor(s): Beecher, Jonathan
  • Kenez, Peter
  • et al.
Abstract

Abstract

Ilia Leon Bortsov-Shrago

WITHIN THINKERS’ WORLDS: ON THE ANTI-SOVIET PROMOTION OF HONOR AND HUMANITY IN THE WORKS OF SOVIET AND POST-SOVIET HISTORIANS

This dissertation focuses on three Soviet and post-Soviet historians: Natan Eidelman, Yakov Gordin, and Yuri Lotman. It is my intention to show that through their published works as well as their public appearances, these men used their profession to subtly work against the realities, ideology and principles of the USSR, attempting to fight against the moral degradation enforced by this society by means of Aesopian language, and by a veiled system of references to their present, hidden in their works on the past. In studying the published works of these historians, as well as their personal biographies and reputations, I was convinced that they did indeed, deliberately and with full consciousness of their actions, attempt to undermine the Soviet ideology and educational demands by providing their readers and students with examples of moral and intellectual excellence which, in Russian history, led them to seek their models in the so-called ‘Golden’, Alexandrian period, that is to say the first quarter of the 19th century. The models they found in this period—primarily members of the Decembrist Rebellion and Alexander Pushkin, became for them models of honorable and decent behavior which, in their current reality, could not be equaled. They used these models to present alternative patterns of thought and morality to their Soviet-era audience, and thereby sought to fight against the pervasive influence of communist ideology.

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